Seattle Mariners: The Pros and Cons of Starting Michael Pineda in the Majors
If you're into listening to people in the know, such as scouts, coaches, front-office guys and other players, you would be led to believe that Michael Pineda could be special.
Of course, all you have to do is see his mammoth size and ability and you can draw the conclusion all on your own.
There are good reasons for the Mariners to bring Pineda up now, but there appear to be good reasons not to as well.
Pro: He's Better Than Other Options
After Felix Hernandez, the Mariners have a lot of questions.
Erik Bedard has been healthy and pitching well in spring training, but we still can't count on him. Jason Vargas was a nice surprise last year, but he and Doug Fister are more back-of-the-rotation guys than front or middle.
Outside of that group, there are guys like Luke French, David Pauley and Nate Robertson who have hopes of getting a rotation spot. With Robertson hurt and Pauley and French being what we expected them to be, Pineda is clearly the best option to be be the fifth guy in the rotation.
Con: Service Time
While many fans and teammates alike get annoyed at this game, it's one that could save the team millions of dollars.
With the Mariners not expected to compete this season, a real case can be made to hold Pineda back for a month so his service-time clock doesn't start ticking.
Of course we want to see the kid in the Show, but for the overall health of the team it makes sense to wait just a little longer. Luke French should be a good enough stopgap option for a month or so while Pineda works on his secondary stuff.
Pro: Work Ethic
Michael Pineda hasn't become this good at a young age by accident.
The kid works hard on every aspect of his path to the majors. After fastballs, PFP and conditioning comes learning English. He's worked hard at this, along with other off-the-field things, to better himself as a whole in preparation for his career.
This work ethic could end up being huge because there are clearly parts of Pineda's game that need to improve. If he is thrust into the major leagues to start the season, he'll need to lean on that work ethic to make those improvements in a high-stress environment.
Con: Being Rushed
While Pineda could surely survive and be somewhat effective at the big-league level, there are things he has to work on.
Too often players are rushed before they're ready, and it stunts their development. The Mariners have said they will not bring up players until they are ready. What determines that will be an individual evaluation of each player.
With that said, you'd think the Mariners know about the secondary-stuff issues. What we, the fans, don't know is what talks have potentially happened with Pineda's agent or the players union.
When a player gets this close and there's a hint of service-time games, it's not uncommon for a GM to get one of those phone calls asking them not to do it.
Really though, the Mariners should be able to sit down with Pineda and his agent and give them valid reasons for wanting to wait a month or so. It will benefit all involved.
You always hear about young pitchers having some variety of stuff—good stuff, nasty stuff or amazing stuff.
Those adjectives don't really tell us much, though.
In Pineda's case, when scouts talk about his stuff, they're referring to his fastball. It's a doozy, sitting in the mid-to-high 90s, where it can be rushed up into the 97 range with decent control.
His command, the ability to hit the precisely-desired spot, could still use some seasoning, but his control of getting the ball into the strike zone has been solid.
Oftentimes, young pitchers with the massive size of a Pineda have a rough time exhibiting this quality. As his secondary stuff improves, this asset will become even more valuable.
Con: Secondary Stuff
While the fastball has the attention of everyone, his secondary stuff is just not there yet.
He has a decent slider, but with that being the pitch with the largest platoon splits, it's not a viable option against lefties.
He has to develop a good changeup if he wants to be successful in the big leagues as a starter against batters from both sides. Right now, while he's working on that change. It's very raw and not something that should be fine-tuned in big-league games.
The ability to work on this pitch in Tacoma would greatly benefit Pineda's development and confidence once he does come to the Show.
I just don't believe Pineda is ready. That's not a bad thing, though.
The fact that this debate is going on shows how special he is and how special he can be.
The raw stuff is there. The fastball and slider are great offerings against right-handed batters. However, he really needs to work on that changeup—otherwise lefties will continue to be his Achilles heel.
He's good enough to survive, but I don't think anyone wants good enough or just survival. Not even Pineda.
The money he stands to lose (or the team stands to save, if you prefer) can easily be made up if he develops further and becomes a legit No. 2 behind Felix.
The Mariners should sit down with him and explain that this isn't all about saving money. The health of the team and his career should make another month or two in Tacoma helpful.